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Teenage Driver: Teaching Your Teen to Drive

Updated on March 5, 2013

Steering Wheel Controls

Average steering wheel
Average steering wheel | Source

Drivers Education Class

Teaching your child to drive is a task that many parents probably dread. Not only does it confirm their fears that their child is growing up but the lessons themselves can be an exercise in frustration. With a driver’s license comes more flexibility for them to go hang out with friends or be late for curfew; unfortunately I can still remember what I put my mom through when I didn’t come home the exact minute I was supposed to. These memories do not exactly make me excited for our son to get his real license in a few months.

We have asked him which one of us he would prefer do the teaching from the passenger’s seat but so far he hasn’t really offered an opinion on it; my guess is he doesn’t want to rule out 50% of his possible practice time.

Car Driving Lesson

The day after he got his learners permit my wife took him out for his first trip around the neighborhood. We long ago learned that living out in the country has a ton of benefits but we have yet another reason to love it, roads with little vehicle traffic.

Right next door is a vacant fire station and kiddie corner to it is an extra parking lot for the school; for a father seeing two large expanses of space, with no obstacles, it is reassuring when you see your son taking out the car for the first time.

As to be expected his was nervous, very nervous. He had no confidence in how to operate the pedals, especially the gas. We have allowed him to move the truck down our main driveway, which is about one-hundred and twenty feet long, but having to use the gas to get the car to move forward on an actual street was a new experience for him.

Our daughter and I watched them navigate the two parking lots for about twenty minutes; she chuckled most of the time while I sympathized with him because I can still remember learning how to drive too.

I didn’t know that my wife was recording this first adventure but I’m kind of glad she did. I know she wanted to capture it because it was his first lesson but I acknowledge the learning potential from it as well. We can all sit in front of the computer and play the video back discussing how he did in certain situations and allowing him to ask questions about things too. If your digital camera takes video, or you have a camcorder, use it during driving lessons, you will not regret it.

Defensive Driver

Months before our son took his permit test we were already preparing him to operate a motor vehicle. We would ask him things while we were out running errands or explain to him why we do certain things while we are driving. He wanted to learn so we took this usually unproductive time to offer some more advice for him. For example I told him that when I am approaching an intersection, and a vehicle is on the adjacent road waiting for me to pass, I always watch their hubcaps to see if they are going to stay there or inch forwards. I learned that watching the car itself didn’t always tell me what I wanted to know but watching the hubcaps for any slight rotation tells me what the driver’s intentions are.

The best example of this was when I predicted what another car was doing on the freeway. We saw a car flying in the fast lane to only change all three lanes to get off at the next off-ramp. Before the car made the lane change, without signals, I told him they wanted to exit the freeway.

How could I possibly know this, he wanted to know. I told him experience has taught me to be a defensive driver so I always watch what the other drivers might be doing. In this case I saw the driver looking at his passenger side mirror before he made the move. The combination of seeing him looking into the other lane with his sudden decrease in speed caught my attention and put me on alert that he might be about to do something. This kind of detective work has helped me to avoid potentially dangerous situations for years.

We have stressed the importance of him being a young defensive driver. Obviously he knows what he wants to do behind the wheel and he can use his turn signals to convey to other drivers what his intentions are. The problem is that other drivers do not always use these communication methods as they are designed, sometimes if at all. Being aware to what the other drivers around you are doing can really help decrease a driver’s exposure to potential accidents, especially a young driver with limited experience.

Free Driving Practice

Automobile Safety

For us having our son understand the significance, and the dangers, of operating a vehicle was step one of his education. Video game crashes just hurt your score; real auto accidents can have life and death consequences. We had to feel comfortable that he understood the vehicle he would be operating can be labeled as a deadly weapon, if not used properly.

In addition to the physical methods used to teach our teenagers how to drive it is important to confirm that they are prepared mentally to drive. We met a family through baseball a few years ago and they haven’t allowed their son to start driving for this exact reason. Sometimes his mind could wander on the baseball field and it frustrated me to no end as his coach but that lack of focus behind the wheel is more dangerous than struggling to find the strike zone. If you don’t feel your child is ready to handle the responsibility of driving, trust your instincts and don’t allow them to learn how to drive.

Automobile Insurance Costs

When your children began driving how much did your insurance go up?

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Drivers License Rules

After the license is obtained don’t be afraid to lay down some ground rules. For us we have a few that are non-negotiable for our kids, if they want to drive.

  1. Their grades can’t suffer because of their new independence. Grades start to drop, keys get put up.
  2. We need to know where they are, no exceptions. Knowing who they are with is something we are working on too.
  3. Curfew is a real thing that isn’t to be ignored when convenient. If you can’t tell time correctly you shouldn’t be driving a car.
  4. Chores around the house still need to be done, especially if you want to drive one of our vehicles.
  5. Since we will be bearing the brunt of your new found independence through higher car insurance rates you will be asked to help maintain the cars. Guess who just became the primary car washer in the house?
  6. We will use the threat of not allowing you to drive whenever you misbehave so get used to it now.
  7. You might enjoy us asking you to run errands for us, at first, but the excitement will wear off and you will probably complain about us asking you to go get gas or take your sister somewhere. We will listen to your problem but we will still expect you to do it.
  8. If we hear that you are speeding, driving recklessly or using a cell phone the keys will get taken away for a very long time.

Safe Drivers

Driving is something that we all take for granted, it is just something that we do as a part of our daily lives; new drivers don’t necessarily view driving that way. For them driving is something cool that shows them how old they are getting and gives them a way to do what they want to do when they want to do it; as long as they understand the responsibilities driving demands they will be just fine behind the wheel.


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    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      roxanne459 - Sounds like we will both have our hands full with lessons huh? Thanks for voting and sharing, good luck with the training.

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Great information and perfect timing for us! My step-daughter just got her drivers permit so the fun is just begining in our house. She is a little nervous but so excited! The dynamic changes as the kids get more independant so I definitely love your driving rules. I am going to write those down and put them on the fridge :)

      Voted up and shared everywhere!

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Cameron - Distracted driving can be very dangerous and friends laughing in the car or trying to show you a text can lead to bad situations. Thanks for commenting.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Nettlemere - Good point on the passengers in the vehicle. I forget that not every state/country has the same rules that we do here in California limiting passengers under 18 if the driver hasn't been licensed for a certain period and is under 18 too. Thanks for bringing it up.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      alliemacb - The rules are a good starting point but they can be added to if needed. Thanks for commenting and voting.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      screaming - Glad to hear it, I hope this helps her.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      nybride710 - It has been a trying time for us as well. Our son had a bunch of practice using the riding lawn mower so he pretty much has the maneuvering part down but the pedals are still a challenge. We also have a 13 year old daughter so we too get to do this all over again in a few years.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      mmsu - Thanks for sharing it and commenting.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      greeneryday - I'm glad it came across as informative, I hope it does help the other parents out there who are just starting this process.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Kathleen - Thanks for commenting and sharing.

    • Cameron Conner profile image

      Cameron Conner 5 years ago from Cornelius, North Carolina

      Great article. I am with Nettlemere. Limiting how many friends they can take in the car with them is a must. I was a terrible driver at 16. My parents let me drive all the time though and with who ever I wanted. In six months I had racked up two accidents and a speeding ticket. Looking back I know that If I wouldn't had a bunch of friends in the car talking to me I would have probably fine. Hindsight is 20/20 though. I hope some parents with kids at this age take some of your stuff to heart. You may even save a life or two with this one.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Some really good points here. I also think it's worth limiting the number of friends they can take out in their car to one person for a while. It seems like peer pressure and perhaps lack of concentration because passengers are messing about contributes to dangerous driving behaviour.

    • alliemacb profile image

      alliemacb 5 years ago from Scotland

      Great hub. My daughter is just learning to drive and I thought the rules you listed were particlarly useful. Voted up!

    • profile image

      screaming 5 years ago

      Must read for my oldest daughter! Her daughter is getting her driver's permit! voted up!

    • nybride710 profile image

      Lisa Kroulik 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Couldn't have come at a better time. My daughter, who turns 16 late this month, just got her permit and I have been out driving with her twice. It's been a nerve-wracking experience, but I try not to let that show. I am going to share this article with her. We'll get through this, and by the time she is an expert driver, it will be time to start all over again with her younger sister.

    • mmsu profile image

      mmsu 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Good info!! voted up and shared.

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      Well written and very informative hub, this is a must to read for anyone whose child is going to learn how to drive soon, voted up for interesting

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Absolutely sharing! Great topic well written.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Mmargie1966 - Thanks for voting and sharing this. Hopefully it will help us parents out there who are teaching our kids how to drive.

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Great hub! I especially like the defensive driving section. I voted up and useful! I certainly hope everybody reads this, adult and teen. I'm sharing!